LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Due to rising mercury levels this week, Kentucky State Police (KSP) are issuing a plea for parents to think twice before leaving their children in a hot car this summer.
In 2018, 52 children died after being left in a hot car for too long, according to Kids and Cars. In comparison to 2017, there has been a 21% increase in these deaths and Kentucky has accounted for three of these so far. Since 1998 the Bluegrass state has experienced 25 child-related vehicular heatstroke deaths.
KSP spokesman Sgt. Josh Lawson said vehicular heatstroke creates an often-misunderstood ideology by the general public.
“The most dangerous mistake a parent can make is to think leaving a child alone in their car could never happen to them," Lawson said. "In these fast-paced times, it is easy for parents to get distracted and forget their child is in the car with them.”
Lawson said a child's body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's, meaning an infant could die of hyperthermia in just 15 minutes on a 75-degree day.
Nineteen years ago, the Commonwealth passed “Bryan’s Law.” This law makes a person liable for second-degree manslaughter or first-degree wanton endangerment for leaving a child eight years of age or younger in a motor vehicle, while circumstances create a higher risk of death.
“While a person will face criminal charges for leaving a child in a car, the pain and guilt from making such a devastating mistake will last far longer," Lawson said.
The law was named after Bryan Puckett an 11-month-old, who died on July 13th, 1999 as a result of being left in a hot car by his babysitter.
The Kentucky State Police Department has offered the following safety tips:
- Never leave a child in an unattended car, even with the windows down.
- Make it a habit of opening the rear door of the car every time you park to ensure no one is left inside.
- To enforce this habit, place an item that you can’t start your day without such as a purse, briefcase, employee badge, phone, etc.
- When at home, keep your vehicle locked at all times, even in the garage.
- Never leave keys within reach of children.